Three men get jail sentences for violating quarantine orders

March 31, 2020 14:50
The Fanling Magistrates' Courts on Monday sentenced a 31-year-old man to three months in jail for breaching a quarantine order. Two other men were also jailed, one for 10 days and the other for six weeks, for similar offenses. Photo: CNSA

Three men received jail sentences ranging from 10 days to three months after they were found guilty of breaching the government's self-quarantine orders.

Sing Kin Kung-kai, 31, was found to have given a fake address, that of a youth hostel in Yuen long, to quarantine staff when he entered Hong Kong via the Shenzhen Bay Port on March 8.

His falsification was discovered two days later when he tried to go to Shenzhen via the same border control point.

The defendant, a Hong Kong identity card holder, had pleaded not guilty to the charge against him last week, but changed his plea to guilty at the Fanling Magistrates' Courts on Monday, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reported.

Asking the court for leniency, Sing Kin, who claimed he was suffering from depression, said he has become a street sleeper in Yuen Long since two years ago and he gave a fake address for his accommodation because he did not want to be sent to a quarantine camp.

He also told the magistrate that since he had tested negative for Covid-19 and had been detained for several days after being arrested, he hoped he could get a light sentence.

However, Acting Principal Magistrate Don So Man-Lung said no one can be totally sure of not being infected with the virus before taking a test.

The judge slammed Sing Kin for being selfish and neglecting public safety, noting that such an act was undermining society’s concerted effort to fight the disease.

So said the defendant's jail term could only be reduced by one-fourth since he had failed to plead guilty to the charge when he first appeared in court, and thus he deserved a three-month sentence.

Two other men were also jailed by the West Kowloon Magistrates’ Courts on Monday for violating compulsory quarantine orders.

Wong Yee-keung, 41, was told to self-isolate for two weeks when he arrived in Hong Kong on Feb. 10 via the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge (HZMB).

However, Wong left his residence in Sham Shui Po three days later and attempted to pass the border checkpoint at the HZMB on the same day, only to be caught at the departure hall by an immigration officer.

Calling the man’s actions “selfish to the extreme”, Principal Magistrate Peter Law Tak-chuen sentenced him to six weeks in jail after reducing the term by one-third.

The other defendant, Xie Yong-yu, 37, was sentenced to a reduced term of 10 days after he was found guilty of leaving his flat in Tsuen Wan without permission during the self-quarantine period.

Xie said he did so because he wanted to visit his sick mother who lives on the mainland, but Law said the defendant's action could have put other people's lives at great risk.

The government welcomed the court decisions, saying the jail sentences send a clear message to the community that breaching quarantine orders is a criminal offense and that the government will not tolerate such actions.

Compliance with quarantine orders is of paramount importance in Hong Kong's fight against Covid-19, the government said in a press release on Monday.

Speaking to media before the Executive Council meeting on Tuesday morning, Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor said that since compulsory quarantine arrangements for people arriving in the city from overseas took effect on March 19, quarantine orders have been issued to 50,000 people.

However, more than 70 people were found to have violated their home quarantine orders, Lam said.

They will be sent to quarantine centers to ensure their compliance and they may face prosecution, she added.

– Contact us at [email protected]